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Sketching out my coop plans

 
pollinator
Posts: 2245
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Hi folks,

Looks like I may be pulling the trigger - finally - on getting chickens!

My hope is to integrate them into our other projects:

I want compost - lots of well scratched, thoroughly turned compost, Rich in chicken poo!

I want them on a deep floor of wood chips - we get them free and can have them dumped directly in the run. Once broken down and manures they can be spread on beds.

I need a way of composting weeds - currently we have weeds survive our heaps. Bindweed roots in particular. I need to be able to throw barrow loads of weeds and stuff in and not worry about contaminating beds with the resulting compost.

We periodically make biochar - chickens can inoculate them for me. They go in with the other weeds and scraps and come out with the finished compost.


So, with these factors in mind, I am settled on a permanent coop and run arrangement. I want an earthen floor, with deep litter bedding. I definitely want to make it tall enough to walk in easily.

To keep foxes out I have seen a really neat design with a high chicken door - about 7ft up. Chickens access it from perches on the inside, or from a chicken ladder outside. Foxes can't reach it. I have also seen battery operated door opener/closers.

The catch is that most of the actual coops I have seen photos or plans for have solid floors. Is there some fundamental reason why solid floors are better? It just looks to me like you are creating a cleaning problem, compared to earth and a deep layer of wood chips? The potential problem I could see was foxes who got into the run trying to dig through the earth to get in. Is there a solution?

My current vague plan involves setting four posts in concrete and making sides from plywood sheets, painted. Speed of build and cost are factors to consider as I have limited time for construction projects because of work. Roof would be pitched corrugated sheet.

How does it sound?
 
pollinator
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You answered your own question about the solid floors.  The reason many people use solid floors is because of predators.  As long as you have another solution to predators, an earth floor will be fine.  My next one is going to be earth.  I am also planning to make the first couple feet of wall above ground level from cement block or stone.  I want to use the deep litter method as well, but I don't want the litter against any walls that can rot.  My current plan is an open air coop, with the building itself made from wood or straw bales.  The stone/cement walls will either extend into the ground 4 or 5 feet to get below the frost line or be put on a rubble trench foundation that extends that deep, to keep out predators.
 
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Burying hardware cloth is the most common way I've seen people deal with digging predators. But it does seem like a lot of work, and hardware cloth is not cheap.
 
Michael Cox
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Todd - I've slept on it and came to a similar conclusion. I think concretefootings and a few runs of concrete block would do it. Then build in timber and chicken wire above.

What exactly do you mean by an "open air coop"?
 
Todd Parr
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Michael Cox wrote:Todd - I've slept on it and came to a similar conclusion. I think concretefootings and a few runs of concrete block would do it. Then build in timber and chicken wire above.

What exactly do you mean by an "open air coop"?



Here is a link to the book.  It's also available online for free, but I can't remember where I got it.  Wood's open air coop

The entire front of the coop stays open all the time.  The book goes in to great detail about the reasons for this, but the main point is that poor ventilation is much more harmful to chickens than cold temperatures.  The picture is from the original in the book.

woods_house_colorized_400.jpg
[Thumbnail for woods_house_colorized_400.jpg]
 
Michael Cox
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"open air" = "open fronted"

Got it. I just hadn't equated the terms. That is what I have in mind. Closed on three sides and open mesh on a third. I'm also considering using clear corrugated plastic for the roof to ensure plenty of light inside. Thoughts on that?
 
Todd Parr
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Michael Cox wrote:I'm also considering using clear corrugated plastic for the roof to ensure plenty of light inside. Thoughts on that?



I think it will work really well in a warm climate.
 
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Location: Deering, NH
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Michael Cox wrote:"open air" = "open fronted"

I'm also considering using clear corrugated plastic for the roof to ensure plenty of light inside. Thoughts on that?



Would work well in the cooler months, but add a 90% shade cloth to the roof in the warmer months.
I know some of the builders on BYC are happy to share plans, but many of them don't really have formal designs or cut lists. I remember writing to a few of them a couple of years ago. I have about 120+ chickens now, and I opted for making hoop-house tractor type structures to house them in for now. I'd love to build 2-3 of the Woods houses at some point, especially to house my girls.

All the best,

Leela
Kindred Hill Farm
NH
 
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